The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 14] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:54 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey
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This is, by far, the most riveting fic I've read on the KB.

I was supposed to be working on the next chapter of my fic...but here I am, reading your story and getting absolutely hooked, lol.

I'm not a big angst fan, but I'm glad that I stumbled upon this story. Makes me want to try out some darker tones in my stories.

Great job!

Update soon please??

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 14] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:58 am 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... Good that Willow now knows that Mr. Bastard is after Tara... I hope Willow finds Tara very soon so she can take her to someplace safe...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 14] Updated June 16th!
PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:09 pm 
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omw!! this is an amazingly addictive story!!! :kdevil
will and tara need to finally have some non-vicarious smoochies though... :wtkiss :blush

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 14] Updated June 16th!
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:03 am 
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Uuugghhhh!!!!! The male members of Tara's family are always good fodder to be awful. It's almost like some weird southern inbred-redneck, overly self-righteous religious thing (I grew up in the south) where the men have to "keep the women-folk in their place" by any means necessary. Even if its lies, manipulation and worst of all force. Crazy, I know but there are reasons for stereotypes, because a large percentage of people fit them. Which is why I no longer live in the south. Not that all people from the south are like that but enough to make it scary. Anyway...

Oh, and the movie night chapter, I have to agree with Willow. I think Imagine Me & You is sweet too. *happier thought*

Looking forward to more.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 14] Updated June 16th!
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:51 am 
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Yikes, you have to update, please. I feel like I'm having a panic attack!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 14] Updated June 16th!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:37 am 
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any chance of an update


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 14] Updated June 16th!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 12:18 pm 
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This fic is amazing! Full of suspense, I hope it has some happiness soon!
Please post an update ASAP, I don't think I can wait long to find out what happens!


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 14] Updated June 16th!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 2:31 pm 
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@angieb86 -- Wow, thanks! :D Ha ha, I'm so sorry about getting you distracted from your fic. xD I'm kind of in between; I really do like angst, but sometimes you just need a light, happy story. Exploring darker undertones is always fun, though. ^^ Thanks for commenting; enjoy the next update! :D

@Zampsa1975 -- You'll have to read and find out! ;D Thanks for commenting; enjoy the next update! :D

@ms_psyhco_pep_squad -- Ha ha, thanks! :D No worries; that will come up eventually. xD

@vampyregurl73 -- Really? Wow, that's crazy to me. I grew up -- well, am growing up xD -- in Canada, and I've seen too much persecution to begin with. At least it's fairly peaceful up here. As awful as stereotyping is, you're right; there's a reason the stereotype is there in the first place. Oh, glad somebody knew what the movie was. xD I actually did cry at the ending, and, like Willow, was made fun of because of it. xD Thanks for commenting; enjoy the next update! :D

@LonelyTara -- So sorry for the wait! Here's the next chapter! Thanks for commenting; enjoy the next update! :D

@cammy -- Yes, ma'am! :D It's here! Thanks for commenting; enjoy this next update! :D

@KioNewgo -- Thanks so much! :D Happiness is guaranteed...some time in the future. xD Thanks for commenting; enjoy the next update! :D

***

TITLE: The Cross

AUTHOR: lilcheesenip

RATING: 14A (Is that a rating? xD) for swearing, and generally just darker topics like suicide, drugs, etc.

DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I don't own any of the characters. Wish I did, but Joss Whedon does. >.>

SUMMARY: When Willow Rosenberg came out to her friends, she expected their full support-or at least some of it. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that they would turn their backs on her, leaving her to navigate the hallways of hell in high school friendless. Now alone, and depressed, Willow struggles to make it through life day-by-day until she agrees to show her language arts teacher's niece around school, and her life changes drastically.

Tara is beautiful, and kind, but that is hardly shown. Traumatized by the loss of her mother, which she witnessed and could not stop, she refuses to let down the walls she has built around herself. Willow tries to break through them only to discover she has similar walls around herself. Can two damaged hearts meet, and finally find peace again?

SPOILERS: None that I can think of. It's all AU, so no monsters, or anything. ^.^ May steal dialogue hear and there.

FEEDBACK: Absolutely! I live for it. ^.^

Author's Note 1: Wow, I can't even begin to say how sorry I am for how long this took! I had a busy summer, and then school started, but that's not really an excuse. I am going to update more frequently, I promise! There will only be two chapters after this, and maybe an epilogue; I'll get them up as soon as possible!

Author's Note 2: For those who read SAVING GRACE, I am thinking of doing a sequel to it, but I have no idea on a plot! I have the first chapter written out, but it is mostly just an introductory; I need plot ideas! Any ideas, anyone? If I use them, they will be credited! :D

PART 15
------------------------------------------------------------------

The frantic knocking on the door went on for seven minutes before Buffy finally sprinted down to the stairs to answer the door, clutching a towel around her tightly and winding her dripping hair into a messy knot, shooting a glare at Dawn, who was lounging on the couch, watching TV, perfectly able.

“When people knock, Dawn, it’s a custom of our people to let them in the house.”

Dawn didn’t even look away from the screen. “Really? Hadn’t heard of that one.”

Buffy’s eyes darkened. “If it’s a stranger – if it’s a hot guy – so help me, Dawn, you’ll wish you’d used your legs while you still had them.”

Moo-oom!” Dawn hollered in the kitchen’s general direction, “Buffy threatened me!”

“Buffy!”

“But, Mom, I didn’t –!”

“I don’t care what you did or didn’t do; in this house, we are kind to our family!”

Buffy scowled; Dawn stuck her tongue out at her. Before Buffy could follow through on her earlier threat, someone banged on the door again.

“You’re lucky someone’s here,” Buffy muttered before she turned to the door. Flicking open the lock, she opened the door a crack, then froze, jaw dropping.

“Yes, I looked everywhere in the house. She’s gone. He’s out there somewhere.” As Buffy watched in stunned silence, Willow turned her head, and looked at her, nodding slightly as she continued her conversation on the phone. “No, don’t call the police. Just...please don’t. The things he said...” Willow paused to shudder. “Of course I know that. I’m gathering as many people as I can find to help look.” Her face darkened with despair. “We will find her. I promise. I won’t let anyone hurt her. Yeah. Okay. Call me if you find anything. I will. Bye.”

Willow snapped the phone shut, and, in the same movement, slid it into her pocket. She was dressed in preparation for a long search, a rain-jacket over her hoodie, small backpack over one shoulder. She smiled tightly. “Hi, Buffy.”

“Wil.” It was a barely audible breath; Buffy was still in shock.

When Dawn heard Willow’s voice, she turned on her side on the couch, craning her neck. “Willow?”

“Hey, Dawnie.”

“Willow!” Dawn scrambled up from the couch and, pushing past Buffy, leapt at Willow, wrapping her arms tight around her. Willow let out a strained laugh as she stumbled back a few steps. “I missed you!”

“I…missed you, too,” Willow answered cautiously. She smoothed an errant strand of Dawn’s hair, and looked at Buffy over Dawn’s head. “I need your help.”

Her shock dissolved; Buffy straightened, and folded her arms across her chest, holding the towel tighter to her. “With what?” She asked coolly.

“Tara’s gone missing. Her dad’s a lunatic, and he’s out there somewhere, looking for her. We have to find her before he does.”

“Why should I help you?”

Willow’s expression was suddenly desperate. “Because he’ll hurt her. Kill her, if he gets the chance.”

Buffy was quiet, reading the look in Willow’s eyes. “Is she your girlfriend?” She sneered the word.

“‘Ey, Red!” The shout came from behind them; all three of them turned. Faith, Fred, and Anya were all gathered on the sidewalk, dressed similar to Willow, each with their own backpacks.

Faith waved harder. “Hurry up!”

Willow carefully pried Dawn off of her, and stepped back, meeting Buffy’s hard gaze with calm eyes. “No. She’s my friend, just like you were. And if you ever really cared about me, you’ll help me, because Tara means everything to me.”

Buffy snorted quietly. “Sounds like a girlfriend to me.”

Willow!”

“I’m coming!” Willow snapped at Faith over her shoulder. Then she looked back at Buffy. “Okay, fine. Yes, I love her.”

Buffy’s nose scrunched up in blatant disgust.

Willow sighed, and pulled out her old Walkie-Talkie from her back pocket, holding it up so Buffy could see it. “She could die, Buffy, and I’m not going to waste my time talking to you if all you’re going to do is condemn her – us – because of who we love. Sorry for bothering you. Bye, Dawnie.”

Willow turned her back to Buffy and Dawn, jogged down their front steps, and down the path that led up to her house. She met up with the small group gathered on the sidewalk.

“Xander’s on his way,” Anya informed her when she had reached them.

“He’s going to help?”

“He’s not going to let Tara die just because you guys are gay.”

“Willow!” Buffy suddenly shouted from the front porch; Willow turned, and shielded her eyes so she could see her. Buffy held up her own Walkie-Talkie, identical to Willow’s.

“Ten minutes!” She yelled. “I’ll be ready in ten minutes!”

[center]***[/center]

“This is hopeless. We’re never going to find her.”

“We have to stay positive, Anya,” Willow said tersely. “Sunnydale isn’t too big. There are only so many places she can squeeze into.”

“You don’t even know if she’s still in Sunnydale.”

“I hate to say it, but she’s right, Red,” Faith said quietly. “If I were her, I woulda been catching the first bus out of here.”

Willow shook her head. “She’s still here.”

Buffy stared at her. “And how do you know that?”

Willow closed her eyes. “I can feel it.”

[center]***[/center]

When it was her turn, Tara stepped up to the booth, and shoved her money under the glass window. “A bus ticket, please.” The words were a plea.

The old man hesitated, waiting for her to state her destination, and when she remained silent, his brow furrowed. “To where, dear?” He asked gently, sensing her panic.

“Anywhere. As far away as possible.”

His forehead smoothed with understanding, and he scooped the money up. “Of course.”

While Tara waited for the man to print the ticket, her eyes wandered, the only way for her to try and release some of the adrenaline still shooting through her veins. As they skimmed over the security mirror just to the right on the ceiling, Donny smirked at her, reflected on the shiny silver surface.

Tara’s heart stopped beating; her scream got caught on its way up her throat. She whirled around, eyes wild, searching.

The man behind her looked annoyed with the slow progress of the line; he checked his watch twice as Tara scanned the line. A woman with twin toddlers, one balanced on each hip, smiled, bemused at her terrified expression. A little boy, clutching to his father’s hand, smiled at her, revealing a gap where his two bottom teeth should have been.

Donny was nowhere in sight.

When the old man behind her cleared his throat, Tara gave the area one last quick glance, and turned again. The old man handed her the ticket.

“Good luck.”

“Thanks,” Tara whispered. She knew she needed it.

[center]***[/center]

In her rush to get to the bus before her paranoia got worse, Tara ran into a young woman – nineteen? Twenty? – outside the door, begging for money. When they collided the woman’s earnings scattered across the pavement, and Tara ended up sitting down hard on the ground.

As soon as she had processed what had happened, she scrambled onto her hands and knees, collecting the change near her. “God, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you.”

She looked up, to confirm she was alright, and found the woman was watching her warily, her eyes trained on the handful of coins Tara held. It took Tara a moment, but she soon realized the woman expected her to take the change, and leave.

There were bruises on her bare arms. She had one black eye, and the shadow of a faded bruise on her forehead. She had a split lip that was in the process of healing over.

Tara stood up, and so did the woman. Tara held out her hand. “Here.”

Hesitantly, the woman cupped her palms. Tara let the coins slip from her fingers, like fallen stars, into her hands. Another pause, and Tara pressed the ticket she had been holding into her hands, too. When the woman looked up at her, clearly puzzled, Tara smiled.

“Whoever’s doing this to you…get away from them. As far as you can.”

“Is this a trick?”

Tara shook her head. “A gift. From one victim to another.”

The woman closed her fingers over the ticket, a precious jewel that she tucked into a pocket in her shirt, close to her heart.

“Thanks.”

Tara smiled again. “It’s okay to ask for help sometimes.”

The woman offered her a parting smile, and then she disappeared around the building, heading to the terminal to catch the bus that might have saved her life.

Tara tightened the straps of her backpack, and tucked her hands into her jacket. She had used up all of her money on that ticket. She had no other way to get out of town, except walk.

She hurried down the steps, and onto the sidewalk. She had only taken four steps when a hand clamped down on her mouth, silencing her.

“Tara.” The voice that sneered into her ear brought back a thousand memories that rooted her to the spot with fear. “It’s been awhile.”

Father.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 15] Updated September 16th!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:20 pm 
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Dibs, I think, maybe today's my lucky day, two in one day.

*shudder* Eeesh, Tara does something brave only to not get very far.

At least Buffy (Xander too) has enough of a conscience to help look for Tara despite her prejudices that didn't seem to bother Dawn, who I'm guessing knew since she would have heard the conversation.

Interested to see how you tie all of this up.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 15] Updated September 16th!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:41 pm 
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Yikes, yikes, yikes. Still panicking here. I love that everyone is helping Will look for Tara, even if Buffy is being a total bitch about it. That bitch. LOL

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 15] Updated September 16th!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:31 am 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... Big yay for Willow being able to round up the Scoobies to help her find Tara, even the Bitch formerly known as Buffy... Big yikes for Mr. Poophead finding Tara...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 15] Updated September 16th!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:03 pm 
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This is still one of my favorite stories on this site...and thank you for updating! Totally made my day! :)

Buffy...so RUDE! And leave it up to WIllow to get a search party...Love it!

Tara is the epitome of loveliness. I wish there were more people like her. That kind of epic kindness is so sparce in this world.

And I hope Willow finds her just in time...maybe Faith can beat the living poo out of Tara's dad...

Can't wait for the next update!

~Angela

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 15] Updated September 16th!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:22 am 
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Absolutely epically amazing, incredible, awesome, *insert loads of adjectives here* update!
Tara's kindness cost her (though he probably would have got her anyway) either way, she's so sweet :)
Made up Buffy has finally seen the light! About time :D
Xander too :)
I shall be waiting with bated breath for your next installment of this epic saga :D:D:D !!!


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 15] Updated September 16th!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:28 pm 
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@vampyregurl73: Isn't it darkly ironic how some right choices can lead us to horrible things? Thanks for commenting; enjoy this next update! :D

@LonelyTara: Your post made me burst out laughing. xD Yeah, it's good everyone is helping, even though Buffy's being a bitch. Sorry 'bout that. xD Thanks for commenting; enjoy this next update! :D

@Zampsa1975: Poor Buffy's getting a lot of hate, even though it is well-deserved. xD Thanks for commenting; enjoy this next update! :D

@angieb86: Really? Thank-you. :D Yeah, we need more people like Tara in the world. I figured it was something Tara would do, because, when you think about it, she was always putting everyone else first. Even when she had been shot, she said: "Your shirt", showing concern for Willow over herself. Thanks for commenting; enjoy this next update! :D

@KioNewgo: There are not enough thank-you's in the world to express how grateful I am for your post! :D Thanks for commenting; enjoy this next update! :D


***

TITLE: The Cross

AUTHOR: lilcheesenip

RATING: 14A (Is that a rating? xD) for swearing, and generally just darker topics like suicide, drugs, etc.

DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I don't own any of the characters. Wish I did, but Joss Whedon does. >.>

SUMMARY: When Willow Rosenberg came out to her friends, she expected their full support-or at least some of it. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that they would turn their backs on her, leaving her to navigate the hallways of hell in high school friendless. Now alone, and depressed, Willow struggles to make it through life day-by-day until she agrees to show her language arts teacher's niece around school, and her life changes drastically.

Tara is beautiful, and kind, but that is hardly shown. Traumatized by the loss of her mother, which she witnessed and could not stop, she refuses to let down the walls she has built around herself. Willow tries to break through them only to discover she has similar walls around herself. Can two damaged hearts meet, and finally find peace again?

SPOILERS: None that I can think of. It's all AU, so no monsters, or anything. ^.^ May steal dialogue hear and there.

FEEDBACK: Absolutely! I live for it. ^.^

Author's Note: One more chapter after this, and maybe an epilogue...

PART 16

---------------------------------------------------

If it hadn’t been for Buffy, they never would have found her.

The group entered the bus station with the force of a wrecking ball. If Willow hadn’t been so frantic, they could have been mistaken for a terrorist group, all of them shouting at the same time, Willow and Fred waving Tara’s picture around while Faith seized the nearest person and shook them until they choked out that they hadn’t seen Tara, and Anya bounced on her tiptoes, convinced she would be able to see Tara somewhere in the crowd.

It was Buffy who manoeuvred her way through the chaos to reach the old man working the till, who was watching in horror as Faith proceeded to rattle each potential customer. He was so absorbed in trying to figure out a way to get Faith to stop harassing his customers without directly confronting her that Buffy had to slam her hands down on the counter to get his attention.

The old man jumped, and looked over at her. Buffy placed her own copy of the picture of Tara down, sliding it forward so the man could have a better look.

“Please. We need to find her.”

The man leaned closer, then nodded slowly. “Yes...I remember her. She was nervous. Is she alright?”

“Her life’s in danger. Please. Do you know where she went?”

He nodded again. “Bus number seven, to Anaheim.”

“And when does that bus leave?”

His eyes flickered to the clock on the wall behind Buffy, and then to the window when the bus coughed and sputtered outside. “Right now.”

Buffy spun on her heel to face the confusion behind her. “Somebody stop that bus!” She screamed at the top of her lungs, jabbing a finger towards the window.

Faith dropped the college student she had been holding by the collar of his shirt, and bolted out the door, Anya, Fred, and Xander close on her heels. Willow paused only long enough for Buffy to catch up to her before they both ran out together.

The problem of stopping the bus was solved by Faith. She sprinted around the front, in plain view of the driver, planted her feet firmly, and braced herself. The bus driver had no choice but the stop; the bus screeched to a halt, and Faith darted around the front so she could bang on the doors with a clenched fist until they opened.

Faith disappeared onto the bus first; Willow and the others squeezed in after. It took them only two minutes of scanning the half-empty bus to discover Tara’s absence.

“She’s not on here,” Anya announced after a moment.

“No shit, Sherlock,” Faith muttered, glaring at her.

Willow’s legs shook so hard her knees knocked together. She wobbled, and Buffy and Xander each grabbed an arm to steady her before she fell.

“We have to find her,” Willow whispered. She wasn’t crying – she couldn’t cry; that would make this entire nightmare real – but her eyes and throat ached from forcing herself not to. Her voice was just a breathless whistle.

“We’ll find her, Willow,” Buffy promised.

“Yeah, chin up, Wilster. She can’t have gotten far.”

Willow looked between the two of them, these two people who were strangers to her now. But how could they be? Buffy’s hair still shone in the sunlight, a natural sheen Willow had never been able to copy, no matter how hard she tried. Xander’s hand around her arm was the most natural thing, because he was holding her up again, the same as all those other times she had convinced him to go on a spin-ey carnival ride, and gotten sick because of it. Buffy’s grip was firm, yet gentle, just as familiar.

Was it possible to know everything about someone, yet have them be a stranger to you?

“Okay.” She drew strength from the moment of familiarity, comfort from her old friends’ support. “Okay.” She straightened up, placed her feet resolutely on the floor so she couldn’t nearly collapse again.

Even when she was standing on her own again, neither Buffy nor Xander let go.

[center]***[/center]

After a quick minute and a half meeting, they decided to break into two groups to search the woods surrounding the bus stop – Buffy the head of one group, and Willow the other, with their walkie-talkies to communicate with each other. They broke apart just outside the station, Faith, Fred and Buffy taking the left side of the road, Xander, Anya, and Willow taking the right.

Once inside the shadow of the forest, Anya wrapped her arms around herself, and shivered.

“It’s creepy out here.”

An invisible noose tightened around Willow’s throat. Was Tara out here somewhere, alone, terrified, lost, or was her father dragging her away by now?

Xander put an arm around Anya, and pulled her in close, placing a kiss on her temple. “I’ll protect you, Ahn. Just stick close.”

Anya snorted. “So I can get killed when you get knocked down after one hit? No thanks.”

Willow wrapped her arms around herself, suddenly freezing, but Tara wasn’t there to hold her and warm her up again.

They moved through the woods in a silence that was broken only by their footsteps, and the crunch of dead leaves and decaying plants underneath their feet. Willow kept the walkie-talkie in her hand, praying for a call from Buffy, one where she could barely speak she was so relieved, one where she told her she had found Tara safe, unharmed.

The call didn’t come. Eventually, Willow had to put the walkie-talkie in her pocket so its weight in her hand wasn’t like a death sentence.

Willow was just about to burst into tears of desperation when Xander suddenly held up a hand, and pulled Anya to a stop. “Wait. Listen. Do you hear that?”

Willow went completely still, and listened hard, the hope nearly choking her. She was about to yell at Xander for giving her false hope when she heard the sound of running footsteps.

It was Tara. She could feel it, bone-deep, burning under her skin. She took off running without an explanation to Xander or Anya, tearing through the undergrowth, screaming Tara’s name.

She collided with her thirty seconds later. Tara was running while looking over her shoulder, and she didn’t see her coming; Willow caught her when she stumbled, held her tight against her, breathed in the smell of her vanilla soap, and finally, finally, cried.

“Willow?” Tara’s voice was wispy, tremulous. She sounded so lost that Willow tightened her grip on her, to reassure the both of them that she was really there. When Willow looked up at her, Tara stared down at her as if she wasn’t sure if she wanted to let herself believe Willow was truly in front of her.

Willow stretched up on tiptoe, and pressed her lips again Tara’s, refusing to let herself think about the action, because if she did, she would have lost her courage. She needed this; she needed one memory, just one, to warm her on the coldest nights, a memory that would heal her at the same time it tore her apart. She needed this, so she could breathe Tara in, pull her into her lungs so it was Tara keeping her alive, not oxygen, let her hibernate under her skin, so the moment, so Tara, was tattooed on the inside of her skin, irreversible, permanent.

To her surprise, Tara responded, with the same urgency that had propelled Willow to act, gripping her arms tightly, keeping her up on her tiptoes. Maybe, just maybe, Tara needed this, too.

When oxygen became a necessity – for Tara, because Willow was still holding Tara, her new life force, inside of her lungs – they broke apart. Willow lowered her heels back to the ground, and closed her eyes, and Tara breathed in deeply, exhaled slowly.

Could this moment last forever? Could Willow somehow alter time, so that moment of silence when she breathed in as Tara breathed out, that sweet moment where they both processed what had happened, and stretch it out until it reached the end of time?

But time kept moving. Just seconds later, Anya and Xander crashed through the bushes to reach them, and the spell was broken. Tara flinched, and let go of Willow’s arms; Willow refused to let go of the blonde, but tucked the moment away, a precious secret that warmed her to her toes, a song just behind her lips that she had to struggle to keep from singing out loud.

Tara had kissed her back.

Tara’s fingers wrapped around her wrists with surprising strength. “W-Willow. W-Willow, you have to go.”

Willow’s eyes finally opened. “What? Why?” Her voice shook, echoes of the pain Tara had caused her that day she had rejected her, and Tara had to close her eyes to block it out.

“W-Willow. Please. It’s not safe.”

“Then you’re coming with me,” Willow answered stubbornly. “There’s no way in hell we’re leaving you behind.” She increased her grip resolutely, to emphasize her point.

“Willow, I’m s-s-serious –”

“So am I.”

Tara, exasperated, opened her mouth to reply, but never had a chance. Some crashed behind them, followed by a male voice cussing loudly.

“Tara, you little shit, when I catch you...!” He didn’t finish his sentence, just let his voice trail off in an unspoken threat that made Tara flinch again.

“Willow, please, go!” She begged.

“I’m not leaving you!”

Before Tara had another chance to plead with her again, her father smashed through the bushes, still swearing at her. Tara paled, and spun around, keeping Willow hidden behind her body.

Her father had a gash on his forehead that was still bleeding – one that she had given him only minutes earlier with a rock so she could escape. She had calculated that she would have enough time to get out of the woods and towards Sunnydale, towards help, but she hadn’t fit Willow into her equation, and now it was all falling apart around her.

“I’d go if I were you,” Her father warned, pointing at Anya and Xander. He still hadn’t spotted Willow, frozen behind her, and Tara intended to keep it that way.

Anya swelled with indignation and opened her mouth to say something that was sure to get in her trouble, but Tara cut her off with a quiet: “Just go.”

Before Anya could protest, Xander grabbed her, and dragged her into the bushes. They melted into the safety of the shadows, and Tara switched her focus to getting Willow to safety without alerting her father to her presence.

“Clever trick, you little slut. Thought you could get away and run off to your little girlfriend, did you?”

Willow’s body trembled behind her – from fear, or rage? Suddenly, Tara felt too calm – a tiny part of her brain that was still sane took it as a sign of how dangerously close to snapping she was – strong with the knowledge that she would protect Willow no matter what.

“She’s not my girlfriend.”

Her father snorted. “Don’t pretend you’re not a whore. We both know better.”

Behind her, Willow flinched. Tara kept her back straight, refusing to let herself bow under the weight of his insults. The more defiant she was, the more he felt he had to keep insulting her, giving her more time to come up with a plan to get Willow safely away from her father.

She reached behind her back, offering her hands to Willow. She felt the redhead’s fingers twine with her’s; they were freezing.

Tara looked him straight in the eye. “She’s not my girlfriend,” She repeated in a calm, even tone that she knew would piss her father off royally.

Her father’s face twisted, and he strode forward, seizing her by the collar of her shirt, lifting her a foot off the ground so they were practically nose-to-nose. Willow shrank behind her, clutching tight to her hands.

“Don’t get smart with me, you little bitch,” He spat. “You’re just like your mother, and that’s going to get you killed.”

Tara stared back at him coolly, even though her heart was hammering so loudly in her chest she could hardly hear him.

He dropped her, and she struggled to reclaim her balance quickly so Willow was still shielded. He turned his back to her, and took a few steps away. By the time he had turned around again, Tara had edged her and Willow closer to the line of bushes behind them, close enough for Willow to sneak away.

When her father turned around, the faint moonlight glanced off the metal barrel of the gun he was holding. Tara’s breath hitched her throat. Suddenly, she couldn’t remember how to breathe, or move, even so she could get Willow away. That gun rooted her to the spot with terror, and suddenly, she couldn’t think of anything else but that day.

Willow squeezed her hands, a question, but Tara couldn’t respond. She couldn’t remember how to. She couldn’t remember anything but that moment. The moment her father had shot her mother.

Her father laughed when he saw the raw fear in her eyes. “You remember. How are your hands, by the way?”

Tara tried to swallow, so she could move her tongue, answer him, keep him talking so Willow could get away, but her body failed to respond.

“A little sore, I imagine. Third degree burns are nasty business.”

Willow couldn’t help herself; a little gasp escaped her lips, but, luckily, Tara managed to open her mouth at the same time, and her father didn’t know the difference.

“T-they’re fine.”

Her father tilted his head, studied her for a moment. Then he shook his head, and sighed. “Such a waste. Why couldn’t turn out like your brother?”

Tara didn’t, couldn’t, answer, so he shook his head again, and lifted the gun, taking aim for her heart. Tara realized, with horror, that at this close proximity, it was possible the bullet would go right through her, and into Willow.

Her mouth moved furiously, but no sound came out. Say something, you stupid bitch! You’re so useless! Say something! But she couldn’t make her mouth work properly.

Her father cocked the gun. At the sound, Willow flinched, and then her quivering body fell still. She had realized what was going on.

Her father adjusted his aim, and then placed his finger on the trigger. “Say hello to your mother for me.”

At the same time that he pulled the trigger, Willow’s hands slipped from Tara’s. Tara half-turned, already knowing what Willow intended, the weight of her knowledge making her slow, clumsy, stupid, so when Willow rushed her, she couldn’t stop her.

“Willow, no!” She screamed, but Willow kept moving. She slammed into her, knocking her out of the way, putting herself in the bullet’s path.

Tara screamed again when Willow’s body jerked at the impact of the bullet. She staggered back, her hazy eyes pausing on Tara’s father briefly.

“You’re a…jackass,” She managed to stammer, and then she started to fall.

NO!” The force of Tara’s scream tilted the world at a strange angle, leaving her tripping her over her own feet when she lunged for the redhead. She caught her just before she hit the ground, Willow’s momentum sending both of them crashing to the ground, Tara cradling Willow to her body to soften the blow.

Somewhere, from far away, her father laughed again. When Tara took a moment to glance up at him, he was actually a lot closer than he sounded, only a few feet away from her. In that moment when she looked at him, the rage was so strong it took all of her willpower and the call of another, failing heart to stop herself from attacking him.

Her father cocked the gun again, and pointed it at her. Tara stared up at him, and waited.

Go ahead. Do it. Let me be with Willow.

Before he could pull the trigger again, there was a flurry of movement behind him, and then the wet slice of tearing skin. Her father gasped, and went ridged, staring down at her in surprise.

“What did you do?” He demanded in another breathless gasp, and then his eyes rolled back in his head, and he collapsed.

Behind where he had been standing was Anya, looking just as shocked as Tara felt, Xander just behind her. Anya was holding a butcher knife in her hand, stained with her father’s blood.

“I brought it just in case,” She whispered, dazed. “Just in case we needed it.”

“...Tara?” Willow’s voice murmured, barely audible, and Tara immediately turned her attention back to the redhead in her arms. Willow’s eyes were half-open, focused on her.

“Willow?” Tara asked, hardly daring to let herself hope.

“Tara.” Willow half-smiled. “You’re okay.”

“Because of you.” Tara pressed her lips against Willow’s forehead so Willow wouldn’t see that she was crying. “Why did you do that?”

“Couldn’t let you…die.” Willow winced. “Tara?”

“Yes?”

“It hurts,” Willow whimpered.

Tara pulled away from her, and lowered her down onto her back, stripping off her jacket, wadding up the thin material to stop the bleeding. She pressed the makeshift bandage to Willow’s shoulder, the bloodstain was the largest.

“Hold on, Willow,” She begged. “You’ll be okay.” She looked over her should at Xander, who was standing behind a frozen Anya. “Call for an ambulance.”

Xander nodded, and pulled his cell phone from his pocket, flipping it open so he could punch in 911. When the phone began ringing, he held it to his ear.

“Tara?” Willow’s faint voice pulled her attention away from Xander.

“What’s wrong, Willow?” Tara brushed a few strands of hair out of her eyes, trying to calm herself just as much as she was Willow.


“I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Tara answered, without hesitation, and she knew she meant it.

Willow seemed to know, too. The lines etched on her forehead smoothed out, and her body relaxed. “Are we safe now?”

“Yeah.” Tara bit down hard on her tongue to keep a fresh wave of tears from spilling over. “We’re safe now.”

Willow smiled blearily again, and closed her eyes. “Okay.”

Tara panicked instantly when Willow didn’t open her eyes again. “Willow?” She brushed hair off of her forehead, and leaned closer. “Willow?”

She didn’t answer. Her eyes didn’t open.

Tara slowly sat back on her heels, staring down at Willow’s still body. Behind her, Xander was speaking low and quick into his phone, but the words all blended together. Even when someone came up to her, and placed a hand on her shoulder, she didn’t react, didn’t pull her eyes away from Willow. She could feel herself slipping away already, retreating inside herself.

Problem was that if there was nothing left of her, there was nowhere for her to go.

Tara closed her eyes, and let herself disappear.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 16] Updated October 3rd!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 11:41 pm 
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Oh, goddess...

I LOVE the way you have written this story...I'm still so riveted by it.

I hope Willow is okay...and a big HOO-RAH for Anya saving Tara.

I really have no qualms about how this story was written. It's absolutely perfect the way it is. :)

Thanks for updating so soon! I can't wait for the next update. Keep up the awesome work!

~Angela

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 16] Updated October 3rd!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:06 am 
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Oh man... you just had to stop there didn't you? :thud you gave me a heart attack, I hope you update soon because I just don't know if I can handle waiting to know what happened. Great Fic btw I really like the atmosphere you've created and your tone.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 16] Updated October 3rd!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:17 am 
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Yaya for great update-y goodness... Big yay for Anya saving Tara & Willow... I'm kinda glad that it was Anya and not Buffy who saved them... I truly hope that Willow is ok... Really big yay for Willow saying those 3 magical words to Tara and answering honestly that she loves Willow...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 16] Updated October 3rd!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:39 am 
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Ack. I think I'm actually having an anxiety attack. Racing heart, tightness in the chest, cold palms. Wow oh wow, what a crazy moment. I'm sad to hear there's only one more chapter and an epilogue, but I'm sure they'll be great. What in the world happened to Buffy and Faith, and GO ANYA! Way to kill an asshole! Did she...eviscerate him?! :D

My fav moment:

Quote:
When oxygen became a necessity – for Tara, because Willow was still holding Tara, her new life force, inside of her lungs – they broke apart. Willow lowered her heels back to the ground, and closed her eyes, and Tara breathed in deeply, exhaled slowly.


Her new life force...so sweet.

Update, please?!!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 16] Updated October 3rd!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:28 am 
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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 16] Updated October 3rd!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:40 am 
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The suspense is killing me! So I take it Anya stabbed him from behind? Guess Willow's really lucky she had on the thick coat, kinda worked like Kevlar - sort of.

Was that a partial admission to having harmed Tara's mother?

Will this bring Xander and Buffy back into the friendship fold? There was the brief but touching moment when they stayed with Willow at the bus depot, but does this mean they've come around?

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 16] Updated October 3rd!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:17 am 
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@angieb86 -- Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for your lovely words! You have no idea how much it means to me! Thanks for commenting, and enjoy this next update! :D

@lonelylanding -- Ha ha, sorry about that. Luckily, I wrote the next update right away, so you don't have to wait long. xD Thanks for commenting, and enjoy this next update! :D

@Zampsa1975 -- Since the Anya-Willow-Tara friendship is central to the plot, I figured that it should be Anya who saved them, not Buffy. ^^ Thanks for commenting, and enjoy this next update! :D

@LonelyTara -- So sorry about that. xD Really, I am. xD Hopefully this will stop the panic attack. xD Yes, Anya did eviscerate him. xD I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. ^^ Thanks for commenting, and enjoy this next update! :D

@vazy -- Holy sheep indeed. xD Thanks for commenting, and enjoy this next update! :D

@vampyregurl73 -- Sorry about that. xD Yes, Anya stabbed him from behind. You'll have to wait and see. Thanks for commenting, and enjoy this next update! :D

***

TITLE: The Cross

AUTHOR: lilcheesenip

RATING: 14A (Is that a rating? xD) for swearing, and generally just darker topics like suicide, drugs, etc.

DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I don't own any of the characters. Wish I did, but Joss Whedon does. >.>

SUMMARY: When Willow Rosenberg came out to her friends, she expected their full support-or at least some of it. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that they would turn their backs on her, leaving her to navigate the hallways of hell in high school friendless. Now alone, and depressed, Willow struggles to make it through life day-by-day until she agrees to show her language arts teacher's niece around school, and her life changes drastically.

Tara is beautiful, and kind, but that is hardly shown. Traumatized by the loss of her mother, which she witnessed and could not stop, she refuses to let down the walls she has built around herself. Willow tries to break through them only to discover she has similar walls around herself. Can two damaged hearts meet, and finally find peace again?

SPOILERS: None that I can think of. It's all AU, so no monsters, or anything. ^.^ May steal dialogue hear and there.

FEEDBACK: Absolutely! I live for it. ^.^

Author's Note: Last chapter. Epilogue after this, though!



PART 17

------------------------------

Tara hated cemeteries.

For one thing, they had always, secretly, scared her. She was a solid believer in ghosts – after all, she knew what it was like to have her every step haunted – and, in her eyes, she didn’t know who was in the air around her, watching her every move. She couldn’t help but wonder about them, and if they were wondering about her, too.

Secondly, cemeteries had an ancient sadness in the air that floated around them, and clung to them like wet clothes. How many lost dreams, stolen memories, or shattered hopes remained in this very cemetery that she stood in? How many broken hearts had been patched back together?

Just walking or driving by a cemetery left Tara with an ache in her throat that she couldn’t quite get rid of until all thoughts of the cemetery had been wiped from her mind. Today, the ache was back, so strong she had to blink back tears, because she would not let herself cry. Not now, not ever.

She wore a black dress that her Aunt Dia had picked for her, clean-cut, modest. Her hair was washed and brushed until it shone in the dim light. She was presentable, thanks to her Aunt Dia, who stood beside her next to the open grave, a mouth waiting to swallow the coffin whole, an arm around her shoulders, holding her to her side.
“You’re doing really well,” She whispered into her ear.

Tara didn’t answer. She just stared at the hole inches away from her feet. She wondered who had been the one to dig it. Who had driven metal into the earth until it bled? Had they been curious about who was to be buried there, or had it just been another job to them?

The wind whipped her hair to the right; the minister raised her voice to a yell, but Tara still couldn’t hear him. She was only a foot and a half away from him; she wondered about the people in the back, and if they had just given up on the entire service.

In one last attempt, the minister shouted: “Amen!” into the wind. Someone’s hat went flying, and a lady chased after it. Her departure was a signal to the rest of the ground. They dispersed, and Tara turned her face into her aunt’s arm.

“Can we go?” She asked quietly.

Without saying a word to anyone in explanation, Dia led her away, keeping her arm anchored around her shoulder. They walked together, side by side, through the small crowd, Dia doing her best to shield Tara from the other onlookers.

Tara could still hear their whispers, feel their stares. Her face flushed, and she slid closer to her aunt. “Please hurry,” She begged in a whisper.

Dia increased their pace until they were finally, blissfully, were away from the crowd. She unlocked the car, and opened the door for Tara, something her niece normally would have protested, then helped her into her seat. After shutting the door, she went around to the driver’s seat, and slipped into her seat.

As Dia put the keys into the ignition, she glanced over at her niece. Tara faded a little once they were inside the safety of the car – there was no other way to explain it. The hard edges of her composure softened; she paled, and slumped against the seat. She looked perilously close to tears.

“Tara,” Dia said in what she hoped was a soothing voice, reaching across the small gap that separated them to brush hair out of her eyes. “It’s a long drive. Get some sleep.”

Instead of arguing with her about providing good company, the response Dia had come to expect, Tara nodded wordlessly, closed her eyes, and turned away from her.

Dia started the car, backed it out of the parking place, and turned the car towards home.

[center]***[/center]

When Tara opened her eyes next, it was dark. The car was still humming beneath her, but, groggily, she realized it wasn’t moving. She turned, and found her aunt watching her with a slight smile on her face.

“I was just going to wake you,” She said, rueful.

Tara shifted out of her uncomfortable position – how had she managed to sleep like that? – stretching her aching muscles. “Are we back?”

“Yeah.”

Tara fumbled in the dark until she found her seatbelt. She released it, and sat up, blinking the last of the drowsiness away. “What time is it?”

“Eleven thirty-nine.”

Tara rubbed at her eyes, yawned once, and then curled her fingers around the handle of the car door. “Thank-you. For bringing me here.”

Her aunt smiled, and shook her head. “I know there isn’t anywhere else you’d rather be.”

Tara leaned forward, kissed her aunt on the cheek, then opened the car door, and stepped out into the night. She took a moment, holding on the door, and breathing in the cool night air, to clear her head. Then she shut the door, and waved to her aunt until the car disappeared from her sight.

Tara pulled her jacket closer, and headed towards the front doors. She had been here so often in the past couple of days that it had become too familiar to her. She navigated her way through the halls, and when she reached her destination, she didn’t hesitate to push through the double doors.

The nurse manning the desk, Jaycee, her favorite, recognized her instantly. She smiled up at her. “Tara. How are you?”

Tara smiled sheepishly. “A little tired. How is she?”

Jaycee moved her eyes back to the computer screen, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. “She’s waiting for you.”

Tara gave her thanks to the nurse, and then headed down the hall until she reached room 214. She knocked once, lightly, and then, without waiting for a response, she opened the door.

A single lamp burned across the room, bathing her face in its golden glow. She was reading, but, as soon as she heard the door open, she turned towards her, a smile lighting her face, brighter than any sun.

“Tara.” She placed the book on the table next to her, her delight tangible. “You’re back.”

Tara took a moment, standing the doorway, just to take in the sight of her. Yes, she was pale, propped up on three pillows, because she was too weak to sit up on her own. Yes, she was hooked up to a million different machines – including an IV, which Tara had held her hand through the entire process because she was terrified of needles – but the light in her eyes was so bright it overshadowed it all.

“Willow.” She shut the door, and moved over to the side of her bed. “What are you still doing up?”

“Waiting for you,” She answered, puzzled.

Tara shook her head, and took off her jacket before leaning close to Willow so she could stamp a kiss on her forehead. “You should be resting. That’s not going to heal itself.”

Willow shook her head. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be good as new in no time.”

Tara was very quiet, looking down at the redhead through the haze of sudden tears that filled her eyes. Willow wouldn’t be good as new, and both of them knew it.

The bullet that would have killed Tara had obliterated Willow’s humerus bone, shattering it, as well as tearing through several nerves and tendons, leaving Willow’s left arm useless. Over time, the doctor had promised, once the bone, tendons, and nerves had healed the best they could, Willow would be able to slowly regain use of her arm, but it would take years of healing and physiotherapy. Because she had chosen to save Tara’s life, Willow would have to live with a life of chronic pain, struggle, and the possibility of never regaining full mobility of her arm.

All because of Tara.

Willow was quiet as well, her earlier humor gone. “Don’t cry, Tara. Please. It was worth it.”

Tara shook her head. “No. Not me.”

“Don’t talk like that!” Willow said fiercely. Her sudden vehemence was recorded by the machine monitoring her heart. Its steady beep increased, and, at the threat of having a nurse remove Tara, Willow took a moment to close her eyes and breathe deeply, calming herself. “You’re worth every minute.”

“Willow –”

“You’re worth it,” Willow interrupted quietly. “To me.”

What could she say in argument to that? It was the only thing she ever wanted to hear. She shook her head again, but she was smiling. “And you’re crazy for that.”

Willow smiled, pleased that she had made Tara smile. “Maybe to you.”

Tara placed her jacket on one of the plastic chairs behind her, and then climbed onto the cot Jaycee had provided them. Tara had pushed it right up against Willow’s bed so she could be as close as Willow’s injury allowed them to be. Lying on her side so she could still see the redhead, Tara ran her thumb across Willow’s right arm, avoiding the area where the IV was inserted. “How are you feeling?”

“Like hospitals were designed in hell.”

Tara laughed softly. “That’s my girl.”

Willow was quiet for a moment, musing over that with a smile on her face. Then she looked back over at Tara, hesitant. “How was the funeral?”

Tara looked away. “Like it was designed in hell.”

Willow made a sound in the back of her throat, frustrated that she could not reach out to comfort Tara. The blonde looked back over at her, only to find Willow’s eyes soft, not with sympathy, but with love.

“I’m proud of you for going.”

Tara shrugged, not quite looking her in the eye. “He was my father. I had to.”

“No, you didn’t. He stopped being your father the first time he abused you. You went, anyways, because even after all he’s done to you, you still don’t hate him.”

“You’re right,” Tara murmured, finally looking at her directly. “I don’t hate him for what he did to me. I hate him for what he did to you.”

Tara’s fingers moved back to Willow’s hand in the path they were tracing, and Willow opened her fingers, an invitation Tara took. She curled her hand around Willow’s, and Willow closed her eyes with a content smile. “How’s Anya?”

Tara frowned slightly. “Not so good. She’s still…she killed someone, Wil, even if it was to protect us. She’s not over that yet.”

“She hasn’t come to visit yet.”

Tara hesitated, unsure if she should continue talking. But it was secrets that had gotten Willow put in the hospital in the first place, and Tara wasn’t about to make that mistake again. “I don’t think she’s left her house yet. They’re having a therapist visit her every day. I went to see her, but…she wasn’t up for visitors.”

“All because of me.”

“No, Willow. All because of me.”

Willow opened her eyes. “This isn’t your fault.”

“And it isn’t yours, either.”

Instead of replying, Willow changed the subject. “You’re wearing your gloves.”

Tara looked down at her hand, cradled in Willow’s. They were clad in her gloves, like they always was. Why was it such a shock to Willow?

“Why?” Willow asked quietly.

“I don’t want you to see the burns,” Tara answered, instead of saying: “Because I don’t want you to run away screaming at how ugly I am” like she wanted to.

Willow closed her eyes again. “Why don’t you see how beautiful you are?”

“Why don’t you see how beautiful you are?” Tara shot back, but, after a moment’s hesitation, she pulled her hand free from Willow’s, and, one at a time, peeled her gloves off for the first time in Willow’s presence, setting them aside.

For a long moment, there was only silence as Willow took in the ruined skin of her hands, and Tara waited with bated breath, terrified of what the redhead’s response would be.

Finally, Willow lifted her eyes to Tara’s, and smiled. “You’re beautiful,” She told her, and, taking one of Tara’s hands in her right, she lifted it to her lips.

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Last edited by lilcheesenip on Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 17] Updated October 3rd! (again
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:38 am 
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Dibs?
awe Willow is so sweet! And thankyou for updating so quickly! That was AWESOME! ;D Is there gonna be an epilogue?


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 17] Updated October 3rd! (again
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:50 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Wow, breathtakingly sweet. What a perfect circle you've taken them through. They both have their physical scars at the hands of a monstrous man, but now they are on the road to healing emotionally because of the love they've found for each other. Thank you, thank you for updating, though for a moment the opening made me really nervous, even though I should remember KB=happy ending! :D I'm really looking forward to the epilogue. Beautiful stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 17] Updated October 3rd! (again
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:01 pm 
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19. Yummy Face
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Yay for great update-y goodness... Big yay for Tara going to be with Willow in the hospital after the funeral... I'm glad that Willow convinced Tara to take off her gloves and show Willow her hands...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 17] Updated October 3rd! (again
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:50 pm 
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8. Vixen
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Even after all of it, Tara still felt a sense of duty.

Anya and Willow in their own rights are hero's of a sort, both saved Tara's life, and now she's free physically if not emotionally. That will take some time. I guess we all write them with a a large sense of resiliency.

Looking forward to the epilogue.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 17] Updated October 3rd! (again
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:36 pm 
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@lonelylanding -- Isn't she? She's like my dream girlfriend. xD There is; you'll find it below. :) Thanks for commenting, and enjoy this last update! :D

@LonelyTara -- Thank-you! They deserved a happy ending, I think. Did I really scare you? :D I know I shouldn't be delighted, but that was what I was trying to do, and now I feel accomplished. xD Thanks for commenting, and enjoy this last update! :D

@Zampsa1975 -- Finally, there's no secrets between them. :) Thanks for commenting, and enjoy this next update! :D

@vampyregurl73 -- If I have learned nothing from this fic, it's that, in my mind, Tara is kind to a fault. xD Everyone is this fic is a hero -- even Buffy and Xander, even though for a major part of it, they weren't. xD If they didn't have resiliency, they wouldn't have hope. :) Thanks for commenting, and enjoy this next update! :D

***

TITLE: The Cross

AUTHOR: lilcheesenip

RATING: 14A (Is that a rating? xD) for swearing, and generally just darker topics like suicide, drugs, etc.

DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I don't own any of the characters. Wish I did, but Joss Whedon does. >.>

SUMMARY: When Willow Rosenberg came out to her friends, she expected their full support-or at least some of it. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that they would turn their backs on her, leaving her to navigate the hallways of hell in high school friendless. Now alone, and depressed, Willow struggles to make it through life day-by-day until she agrees to show her language arts teacher's niece around school, and her life changes drastically.

Tara is beautiful, and kind, but that is hardly shown. Traumatized by the loss of her mother, which she witnessed and could not stop, she refuses to let down the walls she has built around herself. Willow tries to break through them only to discover she has similar walls around herself. Can two damaged hearts meet, and finally find peace again?

SPOILERS: None that I can think of. It's all AU, so no monsters, or anything. ^.^ May steal dialogue hear and there.

FEEDBACK: Absolutely! I live for it. ^.^

Author's Note: Last update! Stick around, because at the end of the update, there is a short message from me, and some goodies for you readers. :D

Epilogue

------------------------------

[center]Three Months Later[/center]

Willow stepped up onto the grass gingerly, Tara’s arm secured around her shoulders. She made a noise in the back of her throat, and Tara automatically stopped, scrutinizing the redhead beside her with concern.

“What’s wrong, Willow? What hurts?”

Willow smiled at her sheepishly. “Nothing. Sorry, but…the sun’s just brighter than I remember.”

Faith poked her in the back playfully – more carefully, Willow noticed, than she would have before. “That’s what happens when you spend three months in the hospital, Pasty.”

Willow mock-glared at her, while Tara bit her lip to stop herself from smiling. Fred elbowed Faith reproachfully, but Faith just smirked at her.

Anya considered Willow carefully. “She’s right, Willow. You’re practically Albino.”

Willow frowned. “Those people really suffer, Anya. You shouldn’t use them to make a joke.”

Faith grinned. “Glad to see your stay in the hospital hasn’t affected your sense of humour.”

Anya snorted. “What sense of humour? Willow never had one.”

“Stop picking on my girlfriend, you two,” Tara protested, even though she was smiling, mostly because Anya seemed to be her old self again, even though she was a little quiet than she had once been.

“What, do you want us to pick on you, then?” Faith asked smugly, and Willow bristled.

“Don’t you dare!”

“Stop being mean to Tara and Willow!” Annie demanded, tugging on Faith’s leather jacket, and the brunette smirked down at the child, who was scowling at her, before mussing her hair.

“You’re real scary, kid.”

Annie swelled with indignation. “You’d better believe it!” She snapped, making Faith chuckle.

“That’s one feisty little kid you’ve got for a cousin, T-Bear,” She said to Tara, who smiled, and squeezed Annie’s hand.

“She’s my little knight,” She said with a laugh, and Annie flushed with pleasure, because, in her eyes, princesses were overrated because all they did was wait to be rescued.

Willow marvelled at the color in the young girl’s cheek, the proud smile on her face. Even though it had been two months since Tara’s aunt had officially adopted Annie as her own child, Annie’s sudden progress still took the redhead by surprise. It was amazing how someone would come back to life when they learned there was someone out there who really did care.

Then again, she shouldn’t have been surprised. She and Tara were living, breathing proof of it.

Tara narrowed her eyes, trying to shield them from the bright sun. “Where’s Jaycee? I thought she was meeting us here.”

“She is,” Willow answered, confident that her nurse, who had been delighted to be invited to Willow’s first official outing after her three-month stay in the hospital, would show up. “She said she was bringing someone, though.”

“A friend?”

Willow went to shrug, then thought better of it, and shook her head. “Not sure.”

Faith jabbed Willow in the back again, making the redhead jump. “Hey, Red, is B coming?”

Tara frowned at her. “Is that really necessary?”

“Completely,” Faith replied, without missing a beat, her eyes still fixed on Willow.

Willow bit her lip. “I’m not sure. She said maybe.”

“What about Xander?” Faith asked, moving her eyes to Anya, who shrugged.

“He wasn’t home when I called.”

“There’s Jaycee!” Willow exclaimed suddenly, pointing with her right arm, because her left was in a sling, cradled to her chest. Jaycee spotted them, and waved; Willow waved back energetically.

The group made their way over to her. When they got closer, Tara could see that the figure next to Jaycee was a woman with hair so fair it was almost white. Another glance, and she noticed they were holding hands.

Tara looked down questioningly at Willow. “You think that’s her ‘someone’?”

“I guess so.”

When they were a few feet away, Jaycee pulled free from the other woman, and stepped forward to embrace both Willow and Tara. When she pulled away, she was smiling warmly.

“Willow. You look well.”

Willow grinned. “Glad there’s someone who thinks so.”

Jaycee chuckled, and looked over at Tara. “And you do, too, Tara.”

“Same to you,” Tara responded with a smile.

Jaycee scanned the group, and greeted both Anya and Faith by name. When her eyes came to rest on Annie, she crouched down so she was eye-level with the girl. “And Annie. How are you, sweetheart?”

Annie beamed at Jaycee. “Five by five!”

Jaycee looked up at Tara, puzzled, and Tara laughed. “It’s something Faith taught her.”

Amused, Jaycee smiled, then straightened. “Glad to hear it.”

Willow glanced questioningly towards the woman behind her, and Jaycee started slightly. “Sorry! I’m being rude. Everyone, this is Wendy.” She stepped back, and took Wendy’s hand, who smiled shyly at them. “My girlfriend.”

There was a moment of silence, and then Faith looked over at Willow. “What is it with you? You attract all the lesbians!”

Everyone broke into laughter. Willow only raised her eyebrows at Faith. “Got something to tell me, Faith?”

Faith opened her mouth to reply with something smart, but was interrupted when she saw Buffy and Xander standing a few feet away from the group, hesitant. “Well, well. Look who decided to show.”

Willow brightened when she saw her two old friends. “You came!”
Tara held Willow tight to her side, and Willow looked over at her, eyes dancing. The joy in her eyes brought tears to Tara’s that she had to blink hard to keep from falling.

Buffy and Xander approached the group, both smiling nervously. Buffy held up the picnic basket she had in her hand, so everyone could see it.

“We brought lunch.”

It wasn’t much. There would be no apologizes today – maybe never. But they had came, and when Willow smiled at Buffy, she offered a tentative smile in response, and it was enough.

It was a hopeful start, a tenuous promise of redemption, and reconciliation.


------------------------------

Okay, first of all, I love all of you for sticking with me even though sometimes I didn't update for months! To thank you, I made you a Willow/Tara video, which you can find here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMv_XL1NMj8

The Cross Trailer can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj12FLvttBM

Secondly, I have two new fic ideas, but one needs some research, so I'm thinking of going with the Saving Grace sequel. Problem is, I have absolutely no plot ideas. I have the first chapter written out, but it is just an intro. So that may take some time.

Once again, thank-you for reading and showing your support for this fic! <3

-lilcheesenip. :D

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|Saving Grace| |The Cross||Never Let You Go| |Keeping Destiny|


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Complete!] :D
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:41 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Dibs! What a great wrap-up! This was a wonderful ending, particularly the tentative but hopeful moment where Buffy and Xander showed up. Reading Saving Grace now and loving it! You should get more reviews. Come on lurkers, speak up!

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The Yuletide Present ... In From the Cold

"We're in love. We're lovers. We're lesbian, gay-type lovers."


Last edited by LonelyTara on Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Complete!] :D
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:23 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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This fic has been epic, it's sad that its over but I'm glad they had a happy ending. can't wait for your next fic! :)


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Complete!] :D
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:50 pm 
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8. Vixen
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Very tidy wrap up.

Your videos, very creative. The Cross trailer was a very good summation you even managed to include some footage from private practice very well, and teenage dream was cute.

I'll be looking forward to the sequel to saving or grace or your other idea. Nice job.

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Heather aka vampyregurl73 aka Riverwillows73
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My stories:
"Dry Heat – In Progress (still)" "Penny Arcade - Completed"
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My Fic Challenge entries:
"Fireworks" "Promise" "I Did What Last Night?"
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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Complete!] :D
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:29 am 
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19. Yummy Face
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Yay for great ending... I'm glad that Buffy & Xander showed up... I really liked the videos... Can't wait for sequal to Saving Grace...

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